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No, The Flogsta Scream Is Not a Nationwide Thing in Sweden

It's a weird student thing that's taking place in university areas only.
2014 november 18, 1:04pm

Some guy screaming. Photo by Nina Aldin Thune

Don't you just love stumbling upon things that apparently are common in your native country, even though you've never experienced them yourself?

That happened to me last year, when the Daily Mail broke a story about it being legal to publicly masturbate in Sweden where I'm from (it's not true), and yesterday it happened again as the Flogsta scream suddenly went viral.

This weekend, the internet discovered the Flogsta scream. That's a tradition when students living in particular Swedish university areas open their windows and shout at around 10 PM or 11 PM (depending on where you live).

MTV posted a one-year-old video in which a student opens the window in his student flat at Lappskärrsberget in Stockholm, screams out from the window, and in return hears screams from all over the place as if it was something occult happening in the neighbourhood. The headline on the post reads, "if someone screams out their window in Sweden, Sweden screams right back."

No, the entire country won't scream back. But students living on Sernanders väg in Uppsala will, at around 10 PM every day; students living on Lappkärrsberget will, but only on Tuesdays at 10 PM; and students in Lund will at 11 PM.

I'm sorry to break it to you, but the Flogsta screams are neither occult nor something new. It's not typical for Sweden as such either. The "phenomena" is actually only common in student cities such as Lund and Uppsala (where Flogsta is located).

And it's not like "no one really knows why it happens" as the Huffington Post claimed in their post about the scream last year – in which they added that it might be a ritual to remember a student who committed suicide in the 70s. Although the suicide part might be true for some, death is not the origin of the now-infamous-on-the-internet Flogsta scream.

Archivist Fredrik Tersmeden at Lund University told the Sydsvenskan newspaper that the most common explanation to the screams hails from a bunch of students at the Delphi campus in Lund. Apparently they saw a documentary about primal screams and decided to shout out loud and clear about the agony they felt around their exams. Tersmeden also says that the Flogsta scream was first known as the "Delphi scream" before it spread from Lund to other university cities where the name changed depending on the area.

Also, in the 1970s and 1980s, long before the internet praised us with tools for quick communication, students in Sweden's other large student areas, Uppsala and Lappkärrsberget in Stockholm, used to scream out their pain and agony ahead of exams. Or screams of agony due to stress. Or – considering it being before the age of easy communication and 9gag – for fun. This was called Elvavrålet, which is Swedish for "the eleven shout" due to that students in Lund were shouting at 11 PM.

It used to be pretty common in the 1980s in Uppsala. It eventually disappeared and only happened occasionally until 2006, when a couple of students hosting the radio show Lantz on the Uppsala student radio brought back the tradition in an attempt to break a world record.

The tradition now manages to live on since universities remind their students of where and when you should scream. Additionally, films have been made on the subject, and when school is about to kick off, local newspapers like to devote a couple of pages to the screams as yet another reminder.

People living in Sweden who never really hang out in university areas have probably never heard the screams – except for maybe during this last year or so on the World Wide Web. But it's definitely not a matter of a "weird thing that is totally real" all over Sweden.

It's a weird student thing – just like it is to pour drinks over your own head, or sing weird songs, oh, and wear weird hats, or have weird sex with your classmates.